LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- A tournament that often found him searching for his ball in the weeds ended fittingly for Tiger Woods when his tee shot on the 18th sailed into the gallery and landed in the rough.
He recovered to finish with a par that left him at even-par for the day, 1-under 283 for the tournament, leaving to a huge ovation despite finishing nine strokes behind winner David Duval.
He tied for 25th, his worst finish in a major since finishing tied for 29th at the 1997 PGA Championship. After winning four majors in a row, he's finished out of the top 10 the past two -- he tied for 12th at Southern Hills in the U.S. Open.
A bad week? Look at it this way. When Woods played this Royal Lytham & St. Annes course as an amateur in the 1996 British Open, he played two strokes better with a 281 that convinced him he was ready to finally earn some money from golf.
Still, Woods put his best face on his tournament performance, insisting that he was pleased with the day's drives, that not much went wrong, and that he, better than any reporter, knew the demands of playing a major.
"I've been there and I know how tough it is," he said. "I do appreciate what I did. The game is very fickle and we try as hard as we can and I am not overly disappointed with today or this week because I tried as hard as I can."
Well, maybe. But Woods and his Tiger Slam have led everyone to expect much more than he was able to give this week -- two unplayable lies and only brief moments on the leaderboard.
Beginning the day five strokes behind the leaders, Woods opened with a bogey on the first hole but recovered quickly. He birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6 to move to 3-under and in position to make a charge.
He didn't. Just as they did in Saturday's third round, the final 12 holes stopped him dead.
Saturday, Woods had an unplayable lie and a double-bogey on No. 7. This time, his try for birdie licked the rim of the cup before rimming out. Woods cursed in frustration and he never made a serious run after that.
"I hit such a beautiful putt on that," Woods lamented later.
His chances ended on the par-3 12th when he landed in the rough and wound up with a triple-bogey . A bogey on No. 15 moved him to 1-over for the tournament before he salvaged the day with consecutive birdies on Nos. 16 and 17.
"I just need to get my mechanics a little bit more sound," he said. "You're not going to play well every week. Everyone who plays this game understands that. This week I grinded it the best way I could."